Interesting to see the documentation emphasized here. I don't use Arch, but I often see the arch wiki in google results for linux stuff I look up. Makes me wonder why wikis aren't used more for documentation.
> Liam Proven Tue 15 Mar 2022 // 10:25 UTC
> The installation process, and the documentation behind it, lead to the third virtue: a complete installation tends to be very small and simple, because you only install the bits you need. If you don't know what bits you need, the documentation will help you to work it out, and the result is something that is both fairly minimal and that, with luck, you understand. You know what's in there because you installed it.
I feel this gets to the core of why I like Arch so much. I’m a Linux novice, so for a long time I ran Ubuntu VMs when I needed to do stuff on Linux (this being before WSL). It worked well enough, but I never really felt that I properly knew what I was doing.
Then I tried installing Arch in a VM… and it took me several days and several attempts, but when I finally got it working I felt, for the first time ever, like I actually understood the system I was using. Now I have a webserver running Arch, and only a week or two ago installed Arch on an old PC to see if I could get a desktop working.
Of course, Arch is not easy, especially for a non-expert such as myself. Sometimes I have no idea how to solve a problem, or even what kind of software I need in the first place. For this reason, I’m planning to install Debian instead on the new laptop I’ve ordered (to replace my ~10 year old machine running Windows), in the hopes that it might have more stuff working out of the box. Still, I’d say that trying out Arch has immesurably improved my knowledge, not just of Linux but of the underlying concepts behind modern computing.
(Oh, and the documentation’s amazing too!)
What I really like about Arch is how minimal & fast it can be without resorting to 'exotic' software or libraries.
I recently installed Archlinux32 on an old Pentium II machine just for the fun of it and was pleasantly surprised that it still feels reasonably responsive (I didn't get X11 to work yet though as the GPU driver for that machine apparently never reached mainline or was removed in the meantime).
Everything is managed by systemd/networkd the way it's authors intended. No custom scripts or other cruft or bloat. No 'helpful' background services to update man pages or the package database.
It's also refreshing how fast pacman is compared to apt.
Only 8 month late (this is an old article from 15/March/2022).
While some may see it as a learning tool I have used Arch on my workstations for 14 years. The last time I remember having to manually fix things was when it migrated to systemd. I am a linux sysadmin so I might be biased but I think people overestimate the effort required to get exactly what you want and nothing more out of an Arch setup.
Small? No. Simple? No. Great documentation? Yes.
I appreciate the straightforward install and wide availability available of packages, but in practice always using the latest packages system wide can be annoying.
For example right now the latest gdb is broken on both my machines, and since i’m not as keen to participate in troubleshooting new software I think I’ll be moving to a more stable distro pretty soon
pacman corrupted my installation twice in a year. Obviously I did something wrong but who knows.
I've been runing arch for 7 years,
I had to reinstall once to fix something I broke with deleting python packages but I never had problems with just updating the system ...
Arch has served me well over the years on almost every peace of hardware I owned and is still my goto for a "traditional" FHS distro. The documentation is top notch and I love the simplistic nature of it (everything in the repos is just unpatched upstream software, for the most part at least).
Recently I've made the jump to NixOS though and been really happy with the additional features it offers.
What I miss mentioned here is AUR and the fact that almost any software that you can think of is packaged there. You read about some cool software (like git-bug I learned about today here on HN), you do `yay -S cool-software` and it's there. On Ubuntu or Debian? Not so much...
I just discovered Arch Linux this year, and I’m running it on a few raspberry pis. I love getting the latest packages, and the docs are great. Arch works well for me because I like updating my homebrew Mac user land daily, and updating Arch just feels natural.
I've been using Arch for well over 10 years, they say it's true that you "learn Linux" using Arch. It's an excellent distro, but a few things make it a great learning OS.
First it's as vanilla as possible, which mean that packages are modified as little as possible from upstream. This means you don't learn anything distro-specific by mistake, and you actually learn more how the package is intended to function.
The second is great documentation and community. The Arch wiki is full of common tweaks that you'll likely have to do, many other distro's may have just held your hand and assumed you wanted those boxes checked, but Arch makes you check them.
Being minimal also helps, it really doesn't overwhelm you. Arch doesn't, it's just that only at a time is usually broken, so you're doing something like that.
The main benefit of Arch Linux to me is that when you do a drive-by patch to some software project, it is not unthinkable that the fix reaches you through upstream and an Arch package update in a matter of hours. This flow is not possible with distributions that run pretty out of date software and have long release cycles: the version that's included with the distribution is usually too old to be able to check out the source, test and directly apply fixes to the upstream repository, and getting those fixes back would take months. This also applies to security updates, as it's easier to rely on instant upstream project updates than on some distribution package owner to remember and backport those fixes.
Been using Pop OS for a while for the It Just Works(tm) experience, but I'm missing Arch more and more.
Mainstream Linux distros feel a lot more like Windows these days. Sure they require less condiguration, but they're also mich harder to mess around with. Starting up htop reveals a jungle of daemons and weird systemd shit I don't even know what does. Systemd is a terribly documented nightmare to configure, etc.
It's so nice in Arch to know pretty much know what everything is for because I was the one who installed it. And to have documentation that isn't infuriating to navigate.
How does a similar Nix OS setup compare as far as number of packages? Is Nix just as minimal as Arch?
Meanwhile my personal installation is 8 years old. It was initially installed on a desktop on btrfs and has since moved between three laptops and across to ext4 and now xfs. 150K lines in pacman log file. I love it.